God Bless the Child by Billie Holiday
(Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books)

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"Mama may have,
Papa may have,
But God bless the child
That's got his own!
That's got his own."

The song "God Bless the Child" was first performed by legendary jazz vocalist Billie Holiday in 1939 and remains one of her enduring masterpieces. In this picture book interpretation, renowned illustrator Jerry Pinkney has created images of a family moving from the rural South to the urban North during the Great Migration that reached its peak in the 1930s. The song's message of self-reliance still speaks to us today but resonates even stronger in its historical context. This extraordinary book stands as a tribute to all those who dared so much to get their own.


About Billie Holiday

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Billie Holiday is one of the most famous jazz singers of all time. She was born Eleanora Fagan Gough in 1915 in Baltimore, Maryland, but changed her name to Billie after her favorite film star, Billie Dove, and Holiday, which was her father's last name. As a child and in the beginning stages of her career, she endured many hardships but made her first recording in 1933 at the age of eighteen. She quickly rose to stardom, and six years later she introduced the world to two of her best-known songs: "Strange Fruit" and "God Bless the Child." Billie Holiday's star burned brightly, but too briefly. She died in New York City at the age of forty-four.
Published December 23, 2003 by Amistad. 32 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for God Bless the Child

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With Holiday's music and Pinkney's art, this package sets expectations high—and doesn't disappoint.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of God Bless the Child (Coretta ...

Publishers Weekly

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Pinkney begins with a family gathered around the Bible at a time when education for African-Americans was not encouraged (""Them that's got shall get,/ Them that's not shall lose,/ So the Bible said,/ And it still is news"").

Jan 01 2004 | Read Full Review of God Bless the Child (Coretta ...

BC Books

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Of course, God Bless the Child features more than just the aforementioned earth-shattering style of Holiday songs, but gives us some old-movie glitz and glam nightclub feel as well, with tracks such as "I Wish on the Moon," "Miss Brown to You," and "What a Little Moonlight Can Do."

Aug 04 2006 | Read Full Review of God Bless the Child (Coretta ...

BC Books

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It's Billie Holiday's immortal whisper, which Frank O'Hara eulogized in his poem "The Day Lady Died," that engraves her signature firmly on the tombstone of musical history.

Aug 04 2006 | Read Full Review of God Bless the Child (Coretta ...

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